Riding Through Civil War History

My weekend ride continued on Sunday morning and the route that I chose took me through Appomattox Courthouse.

You will most likely recognize the name Appomattox as the site of Lee’s surrender, effectively ending the Civil War.

It was quiet that morning, and all I heard were the birds singing and the leaves rustling in the breeze.

I could not help but think about the 620,000 souls who died during that terrible time when our country was so divided.

The peace that morning was such a contrast to the violence that was seen in those fields.

A solemn walk through this small confederate cemetery revealed the story of a soldier who joined the army on day one of the war, April 12th, 1861, and after serving for 1,458 days, was killed on the last day of the war, April 9, 1865.

Standing there that day, I could not help but think about how divided our nation is now, and how desperately we need a leader who will unite us.

Somehow we must learn the lessons of past tragedy and move beyond the divisiveness.

Birthday at The Winery

What better way to celebrate my mother’s birthday than at the Williamsburg Winery.

My parents live in Williamsburg, Virginia, a place that many people visit for the shopping.

I visit for family.  And history.  And the food and wine, of course.

We started with a visit to the tasting room where Calvin, the young but knowledgeable wine steward, not only introduced the wines but offered the history behind the labels and names.

This bottle of Acte 12 of 1619 was named after the Act that was passed by the 1619 House of Burgesses requiring all male households in Virginia to grow ten vines of the imported vinifera grapes from Europe.

How’s that for encouraging the growth of the wine industry in the new country?

How fortunate am I to have such incredible parents?

Once done with our tasting, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Gabriel Archer Tavern.

Gabriel Archer was one of the first settlers to set foot on land near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in late April 1607, moving on to Jamestown in August that same year.

We were having so much fun that I barely pulled out the camera, and the images in this post are a mix of camera and phone.

I wish I’d had more time to shoot the scene,

but really, I was just glad to have been able to spend the day with my parents and celebrate my mother.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Haytors Knob Fire Tower

Once a Wildland Firefigher, Always a Wildland Firefigher.

At least that’s how we feel in our hearts, and I’ve written about this in a previous post.

It’s been over 30 years since I worked a fireline, but when I saw this fire tower at the halfway point of our 6 mile hike to The Channels, I felt that old firefighter excitement deep inside.   The tower, built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, was registered with the National Historic Lookout Registry in 2014.

According to the Registry, the tower construction materials were carried to the construction site on mules and on men’s backs.

When laying underneath, and looking up through the stairs, it truly seemed that the tower was moving against the clouds and sky.

Per the registry, the tower commands a view of over 60 miles on a clear winter day and fewer than six feet when the fog settles over the mountain.  Research did not reveal the height of the tower, but for some reason 100ft seems about right.  Oh, how I wanted to climb it but between the sign that said “No Climbing”, the lack of time, stairs (and probably the lack of muscle), I didn’t get very far.

The tower was in use from 1939 until the spring of 1970, and was the inspiration for a book called Fire Tower by Jack Kestner.  The late author wrote this adventure story in 1960 after serving as a lookout himself at the Hayters Knob fire tower.  “With this book, Jack honored the men and women of the Virginia Division of Forestry (now the Department of Forestry) who work tirelessly to protect lives and property during fire season”.

The tower itself is in much better shape than the cabin once used by the former lookouts.

As we turned to head back down the mountain, I took one last wistful look behind me.

The heart of a firefighter remains.

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See the previous post for more about the hike to the top of The Channels.

The next post will reveal images of the sandstone formations that give The Channels it’s name.

Make It a Movement

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I find that I have to keep the tissues close at hand as the emotions of 1/21/2017 overwhelm me.
Millions marched the world over.
More than 500,000 in DC with no arrests.
Not one negative comment or action did I witness.
Solidarity. Love. Passion. Commitment. Unity.
As my good friend and fellow marcher, Jim, noted “Now it is time to see that this marvelous moment becomes a meaningful movement that perseveres forward toward a future where justice and equality prevail. We shall not rest”.
That is our challenge.

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About these images: As we walked the 2 miles along East Capitol St, from RFK Stadium to the rally site, the people who lived there welcomed us with signs, high fives (and high walkers), cheers and thumbs up.

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As you might imagine, I have hundreds of photos to process.  I’ll be sharing more about this historic march as the days and weeks go by.  I realize that not all of you agree with me on these issues, but for those who do:

Let’s Make it a Movement!

I’ve already planned a Let’s Elect More Women event and havee got a postcard writing party in the works.

10 Actions / 100 Days

Images of Greensboro

Weekends during the month of June were packed with travel, and my shutter finger worked overtime!

I’m still glowing over my time in Atlanta with my son, exploring public art and architecture, cocktails and cuisine, and green spaces. Then last weekend I was able to spend the weekend in Greensboro, NC to photograph a wedding.  Some of you have visited Karen’s blog about hiking, and she most recently posted about her daughter’s wedding.

I am not a professional photographer, and definitely not a wedding photographer, so I was a bit nervous (to say the least).   I’ve known the bride since she was a young teen, and despite my nerves, it was an honor to try to capture the joy of this fun loving couple.

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The time I had to photograph downtown Greensboro was limited, but I wanted to share a bit of it with you.  Some of these images were taken with my camera, and several with my cell phone.

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The city is a wonderful mix of old and new architecture,

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with a proud and tragic history.

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During my morning walk, I learned that Martin Luther King was scheduled to speak in Greensboro on April 4th, 1968.  He cancelled his visit to stay in Memphis one more night where he was assasinated that same day.  If only …

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Within a few minutes walk from Elm Street, the main drag in downtown Greensboro, is the Isley House.  Built by German immigrants, circa 1845, the log house was moved from its original location when the historical museum took it apart and reassembled it here.

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My morning walk took me past public art,

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and along the train tracks.

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Finally, just a few random images.

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Believe me, a cold beer tasted great after hours spent with the camera.

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Thankfully, my friend Tim was there to help me!

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I’m home for a couple weekends but the next trip in two weeks will be on the motorcycle!

Gulf Coast Florida History: Spanish Point

 After enjoying the water and wildlife of Lido Beach, we toured historic Spanish Point.

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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Spanish Point is an “old Florida oasis”.   Many people think of Florida as Disney, Orlando, and beach front condominiums, but a walk through Spanish Point reveals what Florida was like before it became a tourist/ retirement destination.

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There are four main elements to the overall story of Spanish Point: Prehistory, Pioneer, Palmer and Plants, and we enjoyed a walking tour through all of those elements.  An archaeological record exists on the site from approximately 5,000 years of Florida prehistory.

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I loved learning about Bertha Honore Palmer.  “The Chicago socialite and widow of Potter Palmer came to Sarasota to establish a winter estate. She purchased thousands of acres for cattle ranching, citrus groves, and real estate development.  She named her 350-acre estate “Osprey Point” and preserved the pioneer buildings and connected them with lavish formal gardens and lawns.

She also had vision, and she used her influence to elevate the status of women.  She was quoted as saying that “women have no desire to be helpless and dependent.  Having full use of their faculties, they rejoice in using them”.

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photo credit HistoricSpanishPoint.org

Bertha Honoree Palmer also said “Freedom and justice for all are infinitely more to be desired than a pedestal for a few”.  What a progressive woman!

The Guptill house, built in 1901 and originally rented to winter boarders, is now furnished to reflect the Florida pioneer era.

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Mary’s Chapel was built in 1901 in memory of a young woman who died while staying at the winter resort.  Mary’s parents provided the funding for the Chapel, and it’s six stained glass windows.

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Those six stained glass windows were salvaged when the Chapel was reconstructed in 1986.

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This Gumbo Limbo tree is known as the “tourist tree” because the bark is red and peeling like a sunburn.

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Visitors to Spanish Point can “explore 30 historical, environmental, and archaeological acres at this irreplaceable outdoor museum on Little Sarasota Bay in Osprey, Florida”.  I urge you to visit if  you are in the Sarasota area.

After all the walking and exploring, it was time for a cold beer, and where better to have one than in a Tiki Hut.

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Mother Nature and the local birding wildlife offered a beautiful end of the day show!

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Nest Post: Siesta Beach and the Museum of Art & Whimsy

Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement

The instructions were simple: sit quietly and wait to be served.

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The Sit-In movement was born in Greensboro, NC.  “Four African American college students walked up to a whites-only lunch counter at the local WOOLWORTH’S store and asked for coffee. When service was refused, the students sat patiently. Despite threats and intimidation, the students sat quietly and waited to be served”

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As the national Sit-In Movement grew, “participants would be jeered and threatened by local customers. Sometimes they would be pelted with food or ketchup. Angry onlookers tried to provoke fights that never came. In the event of a physical attack, the student would curl up into a ball on the floor and take the punishment. Any violent reprisal would undermine the spirit of the sit-in. When the local police came to arrest the demonstrators, another line of students would take the vacated seats”.

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To read more about that day in 1960, and the desegregation efforts that followed, please take a moment to read this brief article.

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That same Woolworth’s building is now the home of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, whose mission “seeks to ensure that the world never forgets the courage displayed by four young North Carolina A&T State College students, on February 1, 1960, and the hundreds and thousands of college and community youth in Greensboro, in the South and around the country who joined them in the days and weeks that followed which led to the desegregation of the Woolworth lunch counter and ultimately to the smashing of the despicable segregation system in the southern United States”

* Much of the preceding text was taken from the website linked above *

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It would be too easy to assume that racism no longer exists because the more obvious “Whites-Only” signs are long gone.  Sadly, as has been evident in the news of late, racism is still a battle not yet won.

We must never forget, though, the brave ones who led the way to desegregation.